Before you put new strings on your guitar, there’s a few things we need to talk about. A few things you need to know.
1. Knowing your string gage.
Your guitar was originally set up to play best with a certain gage of strings.
Probably light gage strings.
But, if you don’t know what gage is on there, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting on the same string gage as you’re taking off to keep it playing great.
It’s like knowing the size of your britches before randomly grabbing a new pair off the shelf and heading for the checkout.
If you aren’t sure what gage strings you have on, there’s a few things you can do:
- Use a micrometer to measure the thickness of the strings.
- Take it to a guitar shop to have them tell you what gage is on there.
- Buy the set you like and have a shop give your guitar a new setup.
2. Have a safe place to re-string your guitar.
The living room floor isn’t the place to put your little buddy on the operating table.
Someone comes to the door, the phone rings, or you’re called to a different part of the house… and your pal could be in trouble.
Kids come rough-housing through. The dog gets done with her bath and has the zoomies. Or maybe you just happen to trip on the cat drunk with catnip…
The cat’s been at the nip, not you!
Still… down you go and crunch-crumple-boing… you got real trouble.
Using the couch for a work bench isn’t a good idea either. Again, you get called away and next you know…
Aunt Fanny drops by, gets yapping, arms flailing around not paying attention and… CRUNCH! Drops her wide load for a direct hit to your buddy’s top.
Aunt Fanny will find out who her friends are when she needs the splinters removed, but your sweet little axe paid the price to find out.
Put it up on a spacious snack bar, kitchen counter, dining room table, or desk.
Something easily accessible.
3. Don’t use your guitar case as a surgical gurney.
It’s tempting to think, your guitar case is the perfect place to work. Soft and fuzzy. Form fitted to your shapely pal.
But, don’t do it…
If you want to play guitar with all your fingers in weeks to come, that is.
And if you value the finish on your guitar.
Those flesh-eating case buckles can make nasty toothy fangs when your guitar case lid comes slamming down on the back of your hand.
Or, on your guitar.
4. Use an instrument mat and neck cradle.
You’re guitar cost you what… somewhere between $250 and $3,500 or more?
You got that much money you can just go buy another one?
Spending $30 on a decent instrument mat and a neck cradle is cheap insurance against it falling off a table or getting nicked up.
If bucks are scarce, try these substitutes.
- Non-skid shelf paper.
You can buy shelf covering material made of a composite which feels something like cork or rubber.
It’s very non-skid and won’t hurt your guitar’s finish.
- A slightly damp bath towel.
Lightly mist a bath towel, or wet and wring it out as much as possible.
Use it as a mat. The dampness will keep a towel from slipping, but not enough to hurt the finish of your guitar.
Just don’t leave it sit on it for hours.
- A kitchen rug upside down.
Some rugs have a rubber backing. Toss one in the wash to make sure it’s clean.
moisten the nap side of the rug and place it nap-side down on a table, and put your guitar on top of the rubber backing.
This will help keep it from sliding around.
5. Inspect your guitar.
This is a great time to:
- Check for worn frets.
- Inspect the bridge saddle for burs or wear.
- Polish up the frets with a fret polishing kit.
- Clean the fretboard.
- Clean along the nut where it meets the headstock and fretboard.
- Clean where the end of the fretboard meets the body.
- Clean where the bridge meets the body.
- Replace the battery in your internal pickup if you have one.
Now, you’re ready to put on a fresh set of strings, n enjoy a few hours of blissful playing.